January 2010
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Day January 27, 2010

Is it 10am yet?

I’ll admit it.  I’m an Apple fan.  I didn’t actually need to say that out loud to most people I know.  I joke that I should just tithe a percentage of my income to Cupertino, and have them send me one of everything in return – a “hardware subscription.”

This morning, fingers crossed, we’ll learn more about the new “tablet” device.  The leaks have been accelerating for days, business partners ringing my iPhone constantly to tell me breaking news, and of course I’ve read all the non-news news purporting to describe authoritative leaks.

But none of it matters, because ultimately what we want to see is Steve, dressed in his usual black and white, stand onstage and give The Demo.  If you’re in the biz, The Demo is King.  The Demo is where you set expectations, destroy preconceived notions.  The Demo is where you win or lose, fundamentally.  Because before The Demo, the chessboard is empty.  The Demo is where you put your pieces down — not in the starting configuration, but hopefully in position to reach mate in the fewest moves possible.

If you’re Doug Englebart, giving the mother of all demos, you literally change the world by showing us the ragged bits that the rest of us will spend the next forty years making smooth and usable and real.  Everything that followed:  Dan Bricklin’s Visicalc, Alan Kay’s pioneering work, Steve and Steve with the Apple II, Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee and the Web, Netscape, Linus Torvalds…all of it the work of giants in our field…all of it playing out the possibilities inherent in that mother of all demos.

Steve Jobs consciously aims at game-changing demos:  the original iPhone demo was, as was OS X and the Intel transition.  I don’t know that today’s announcement will rise to that level, but I hope so.

I think our industry is getting tired of playing out the possibilities inherent in a forty-year-old demo.  It would be nice to have some new territory to explore.